Seattle Culture

Editor’s Note: Seeking Space

Housing patterns reflect the no-commute lockdown

By Rob Smith March 19, 2021


This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Seattle magazine.

After almost a year of pandemic-induced lockdown, we recently moved from a smallish condo to a house with double the space. It became steadily apparent as the months slowly ticked off last year that the condo we had lived in for more than three years simply wasn’t designed for 24/7 living.

We remained in Seattle. Many have not. A report by Seattle online housing marketplace Redfin found that the city ranked No. 7 on a list of cities users of the platform were looking to leave last October and November, based on Redfin search data.

“A lot of folks who live in small urban condos and houses are realizing they can get more space for their money outside the city,” says Redfin agent Leslie White. “Given the newfound freedom to work from home, a lot of people are buying bigger homes with outdoor space in the suburbs or even farther out if they only need to commute into the city once or twice a month.”

That’s exactly why Molly Croft and her husband moved from their longtime home near the University of Puget Sound campus to a property three times as large in Port Orchard, about 30 miles northwest of Tacoma. Croft and her husband now work remotely full time. They’re also raising three kids — 7-year-old twins and a 10-year old — and even with a previous remodel quickly realized they required a much larger house during the lockdown.

“The pandemic is what pushed the throttle down,” Croft says. “We went to two parents working at home with three kids in a small house with a dog. We felt the constraints of the square footage so much more drastically.”

You can read more about this trend starting on page 24. While many have been fortunate enough to receive the vaccine, the pandemic continues to present unprecedented challenges. At Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet, costume designers are doing fittings via Zoom. As you can imagine, that’s no easy feat. You can read more about those strategies beginning on page 70.

And, despite the continuing trend of working from home, the region’s commercial real estate community is actively preparing for a return to the office. Several buildings that began the construction process long before the pandemic are opening this year, and brokers say leasing activity has been brisk, a positive sign that the region is at least poised to recover.

That story begins in Seattle Business magazine on page 50. We’re all beyond eager to move toward any sense of normality. We’re not quite there, but there’s palpable energy that the end of the pandemic is near. It cannot come soon enough.

Follow Us

The Book that Saved a Building

The Book that Saved a Building

The Boys in the Boat has become a worldwide phenomenon as the movie prepares for a Christmas Day voyage

The new issue will be released at the end of October. Subscribe here.  They journey to the old, wooden boathouse on the Montlake Cut from all corners of the country and world. As fans of the bestseller The Boys in the Boat, they want to see firsthand the more than 100-year-old structure that still sits…

Backstory: Seeing the Light

Backstory: Seeing the Light

The Woodworth Apartment Building now features an art display

That huge, colorful display of art you may have noticed while passing by the intersection of 10th Avenue and East Union Street is here to stay. The new Woodworth Apartment Building now features a rotating, 60-foot-tall projected art show curated by different artists. It will light up every night at dusk year-round. New installations will…

The Eastside Edge

The Eastside Edge

Here's why the Eastside market is booming

With housing prices at record highs throughout the Puget Sound region, prospective buyers are understandably nervous about making the plunge. Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and other Eastside suburbs may offer the best opportunities for homebuyers concerned about protecting equity, investors seeking to maximize return, or young professionals positioning for future employment. The “Zoom boom” notwithstanding, large tech…

Best Places: Suburban Shift

Best Places: Suburban Shift

The most popular ‘burbs to buy a home

Claire and Derek Klein loved living in the downtown Seattle condo they purchased in 2016 across the street from the Washington State Convention Center. They took full advantage of the nightlife and pedestrian amenities in their neighborhood. Then Covid-19 hit and changed everything. Derek, a technology consulting principal director for Accenture, began working from home….